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Review and bibliography of studies of manual and mechanical aptitude Gregory, Doris


This report presents a review and bibliography of the work which has been done in the fields of manual and mechanical aptitude up to and including July, 1948. All studies in these areas which have been mentioned in the Psychological Abstracts, as well as a number of others which were published prior to 1926, are listed in the bibliography. The more significant of these investigations have been selected for review. The bibliography contains 830 references, of which approximately 500 deal with mechanical aptitude and 300 with manual aptitude. The remaining works listed, while of a more general nature, are studies which have proved useful to investigators in the fields under consideration. Both manual and mechanical aptitudes are discussed with reference to (1) theory, (2) relationships with other traits, (5) development of tests, (4) use of tests in vocational selection, and (5) contributions from European and other countries. British and American theories are compared and contrasted. The relationships between manual and mechanical aptitudes, on the one hand, and such traits as age, sex, and intelligence, on the other, are briefly considered. The subsections entitled "Tests" review the development of various testing procedures. Some attempt has been made to classify these, on the basis of the apparatus used and the type of ability required. Mechanical aptitude tests, for example, may be either performance or pencil and paper tests, and many require one or more of such varied abilities as the accurate perception of spatial relationships, a knowledge of mechanical principles, and the ability to assemble mechanical objects. Most British investigators prefer to consider tests of assembly under the heading of manual dexterity, wherever either the tests or descriptions thereof were available to the reviewer, they have been briefly described. The use of tests of manual and mechanical aptitude for purposes of vocational selection is discussed at some length. It was found that tests have been devised for a vast number of skilled trades, in addition to several of the professions, particularly dentistry and engineering. In the case of mechanical aptitude, tests have been included in guidance as well as in selection programs. Finally, under the fifth heading, an attempt has been made to evaluate the relative contributions of countries other than the United States and Great Britain. The contributions of the countries most prolific in these fields are considered separately. In Europe, until about 1940, Germany led in the number of investigations reported in the Psychological Abstracts, with France and Italy next in line. However, by the beginning of the second world war, Russian studies were becoming quite numerous, and, at present, Russia appears to be approaching the position of dominance once held by Germany. The review terminates with a brief resume under the heading "Summary and Conclusions". It is concluded that adequate studies are still lacking in many areas, and that the principal needs are more careful definition of the jobs studied and the securing of adequate criteria to determine the validity of manual and mechanical aptitude tests.

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